Monday, November 15, 2010

Turlington Walker Harvey, A Great Man Who Established the Town of Harvey, Illinois

I have been reading about events after the Great Fire of 1871. How did Chicago care for 100,000 people who were without housing, food, water and medical care? One of the men who played a prominent role in that effort was Turlington Walker Harvey.

Mr. Walker was born in Siloam, New York, March 10, 1835. His mother, Paulina Walker was of Scottish heritage. Both parents were active in the Presbyterian church. At 19, he came to Chicago with one large copper penny. He found work his first day for a sash and door company. Later, he was employed by Abbott & Kingman and, when Mr. Abbott went down on the Lady Elgin, the company was reformed.

The Civil War brought increasing business. His first mill built in 1865 burned and he moved to 22nd and Morgan. He then built the first really fire-proof building up to that time. By 1883, his business reached the enormous figure of 140 million feet. His own boats brought the lumber to Chicago and he was the first to build small gauge railroads to reach the lumber.

In 1883, he organized the T. W. Harvey Lumber Company, putting a million dollars into the company. He owned companies that operated 90 lumberyards in the west.

Mr. Harvey was a member of the Chicago Relief and Aid Society and helped distribute $10 million sent to Chicago. He was in charge of housing which we deal with later. For six months after the fire, he was never in his office but worked for the Relief Society from their offices at 13th and Michigan. His dedication, knowledge and ability was indispensable in providing housing for the people after the fire.

His first wife died and he was left to care for four small children. A second marriage produced seven children. He was an intimate friend of Dwight L. Moody who conducted services at Camp Douglas for the southern soldiers. He “was one of the first to import Aberdeen Angus Cattle from Scotland.”

He established the town of Harvey, Illinois, which was a temperance town. There he built the Harvey Steel Car Company Works in 1892, the first steel freight cars adopted by the railroads.

His favorite poet was Robert Burns. He owned a large stock farm in Eastern Nebraska, at Turlington. Mr. Harvey is buried at Graceland cemetery in Chicago, Illinois.

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